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Just say no

Is it possible we have forgotten how to rest? And in not carving out time for rest, is it possible we’re missing out on a major blessing from God?

Think about how we live today. God has wired us with ambition that often results in attempting to use every waking hour to make gain – and when we’re not working, even our leisure schedule ends up being exhausting!

Dr. Richard Swenson defines the problem that plagues many of us as “a lack of margin.” He states, “The conditions of modern-day living devour margin. If you are homeless, we send you to a shelter. If you are penniless, we offer you food stamps. If you are breathless, we connect you to oxygen. But if you are marginless, we give you yet one more thing to do.”

Does looking at your to-do list and your calendar make you tired? If so, you might be missing the margin you so desperately need.

Under Old Testament law, God had commanded the Sabbath day be kept holy. Sabbath observance was God’s way of ensuring there would be positive margin in the lives of his people. However, by the time of Jesus’ ministry, this day designated for worship, rest and reflection had devolved into a burden at the hands of Jewish leadership. In Mark 2:27 Jesus reminded his critics that “the Sabbath day was made to help people; they were not made to be ruled by the Sabbath day.”

Today, Sabbath law no longer applies to Jesus followers because of his death, burial and resurrection (Hebrews 10:1-18). Based on the New Testament example of the first-century church, we now worship on the first day of the week. We would do well, however, to not ignore God’s provision in giving his people an opportunity for rest.

How can we recapture an appropriate rhythm of work and rest in this busy-all-the-time world we live in?

An internet search will provide a variety of ideas for incorporating rest into our routines, including valuing down time rather than regarding it as wasted time; disconnecting from technology for a time; and getting a healthy amount of sleep, to name just a few.

Jesus successfully disconnected from people for a time of rest, and he made sure his disciples rested, too. His example speaks to the importance of resting.

The following idea might be the most crucial key to success: While it might not be easy, we must discipline ourselves to say “no” when social demands are overwhelming us. Being able to say “no” is the key to avoiding over-scheduling and recapturing positive margin.

God knew exhausted people struggle to run good races. Imagine a reality where you are in control of your time rather than feeling like time is controlling you. Learn to say “no” and get your margin back! Doing so will allow you to get some rest!


Philip Goad is the minister at North Highlands Church of Christ in Russellville. He is married to Marla, and they have a daughter, Kayla Thorne, who is married to Josh. They also have a son, Preston, and one grandchild, Greyson Thorne.